Race for No 10 is up and running

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

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You may think that I am something of a geek, but the race for No10 always gets me a little giddy and with three weeks to go I am something of a quiver.

Never mind the Grand National (although the last time I won a penny on that, the rather aptly named, Party Politics brought home the bacon) or the privileged bore-fest that is the Boat Race (I pray they sink every year) no, for me the cut and thrust, the intrigue and scheming of an election is first past the post every time.

The characters and their various foibles and idiosyncrasies fascinate me too, providing a rich, visual catalogue of elections past.

From Maggie’s handbag to Callaghan’s glasses, Foot’s donkey jacket to Major’s peas and who can forget Prescott’s right hook?

Sadly this time around we only have the Farage overcoat, the Ed Balls and Natalie Bennett memory game and a barrage of promises from 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg.

Unfortunately for them, with most polls predicting a hung parliament, the majority of promises could end up being about as worthless as your new Nectar points from Sainsbury’s.

Because if the polls are to be believed, most of their pledges will disappear quicker than a punch drunk Top Gear presenter, bargained away, in a desperate bid for power.

For instance, Labour want to keep the Trident nuclear deterrent as do the Tories, whilst the Lib Dems would just borrow it on Mondays and Thursdays (or something like that).

But if any of them want to do business with the SNP in order to form the next government they will have to commit to scrapping it.

In their manifesto, the Conservatives promise an in-out referendum on Europe, once they have twisted a few arms and changed a few treaties, but that won’t be good enough for a deal with UKIP, should they be in a position to dictate terms after May 8.

The manifesto itself dates back to 1834 when Robert Peel set out a declaration of his views on public policy before declaring: “I will not accept power on the condition of declaring myself an apostate from the principles on which I have heretofore acted.”

My, how times have changed. These days they will promise you anything with the full knowledge that they can row back on it later, claiming that it was for the “good of the country”.

They could promise a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, a three day weekend and free wigs for the follically challenged, all in the knowledge that they probably wouldn’t have to deliver on it.

It happened at the last election when Nick Clegg made himself look a right plonker, after swearing blind before the vote that he would abolish tuition fees for University students. He then performed an amazing about face once the whiff of power had wafted under his nose.

So the stakes are high and the runners and riders are almost under starters orders.

We have seen their true colours and we know all about their form, all we have to do now is place our bets on the big election race.

You pays yer money and yer takes yer chances.